To the Speech Pathologist Who Said My Son Wouldn't Be a Genius Overnight


“You know, with his developmental disability he isn’t going to become a genius overnight.”

I wasn’t prepared when these words tumbled out of the speech pathologist’s mouth. I didn’t respond. I was in shock.

All we had done was stand our ground and request to keep the same level of service. “Did she really say that?” kept running through my mind as we concluded the IEP. I wish I had the confidence and presence of mind during the meeting to respond to her harsh words.

So, if I could respond to her now, I would hope it would go something like this:

Do I know my youngest son has a developmental disability? Yes, I am quite aware. I was aware from the moment we took him home from the hospital and realized he couldn’t muster the coordination or energy to suck on his bottle. I was aware from the day our pediatrician said, “Are you sure you want to go through with this adoption?”

Lady, I have been with this treasure of a son from day one and I know everything about him.

But, do you know how his cheerful personality can light up a room?

Or, how much his teachers and caregivers enjoy his sense of humor and joie de vivre?

Do you know how brave he is when faced with many medical pokes and prods?

Do you know he loves sports and music and has a gift for mimicking the graceful moves of others?

Do you know he loves lions and tigers and dogs and Disneyland and “Star Wars?”

Do you know he has so much to offer the world beyond the constraints of your definition of genius?

So, by asking to keep the same level of service I was not holding on for a miracle. I walk in his reality every single day. I was asking to keep those services so he would have the same access to curriculum as children without speech impairment. It would not be fair to limit a 7-year-old’s potential in life to only academic success. We have just this small window to refine his speech development, and it hasn’t closed yet.

We are realistic, but we are not giving up yet. For our son’s benefit, I hope you haven’t either.

My son is happy, kind, and curious. He is braver than I will ever hope to be. He teaches me about joy every day, and I think that is what success is all about.

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